Wednesday, September 18, 2019


Even after unnecessarily watching about an hour of Sleeping With the Enemy until about four am, a film I’ve seen loads of times when I was younger, and didn’t even watch it until the end, just lay in bed pointlessly watching a portion of it, knowing I was wasting valuable Z’s, I still woke about just before ten. I felt surprisingly alert anyway. The worst thing is, I knew we’d be up all night tonight, since we had to drive through the night after the show in Jyväsylä to make it to the morning boat in Åbo. The drives have been easy on this little jaunt, but as usual it’s the last one that’s the worst. So more than likely I’d come home a worn out old wreck. Completely my own fault. I may have toned down the booze completely, but I still have a problem battling sleep it seems.

There was no breakfast on offer at the robot hotel so after showering we made our way out to the streets of Tampere in search of some breakfast. Since we had a couple of hours to kill before picking the gear up from the venue I had earmarked a visit to a Lenin museum they had here, apparently the largest one in Europe. I wasn’t expecting it to be much more than the size of a living room, but I thought it could be cool to see. We walked about not really being able to concur on what anyone wanted. I had a vision of a cosy cafe and a strong cup of coffee but after becoming frustrated with the lack of veggie options we ended up eating at some indoor food market that had a Mexican style grill in it. I was pretty chuffed with my tofu quesadilla but Andy seemed a bit down on his vegan burger. Cracks me up sometimes though. When he orders food he’s normally quite abrupt. “I’ll have the vegan burger” was all he could muster. And then when it came solo on a plate, he looked at the woman and said, “Fries?” There were no fries, which I guess bugged him. Johan and I cracked up at his style. “He doesn’t waste energy on unnecessary words with people he doesn’t know,” joked Johan.

It wasn’t really the breakfast I’d envisioned but I was still satisfied, certainly more than Andy was at least. We moved along the main street to the end of the road and then took a left over to where the Lenin museum was housed. It was on it’s own floor in a large building, but it cost 8 euros to get in, and given we didn’t have that much time it didn’t really feel worth it. We ended up back at a cafe next to where we’d eaten, and which had us all straight away lamenting the fact we hadn’t taken breakfast here. It was a lot cosier. Andy and Jon tucked into some buns to compensate, whilst I enjoyed the simplicity of a superbly made espresso. Andy went off for a wander before we’d have to meet up with the Massgrav guys, the other three of us stayed on for a game of Yahtzee. Jon really cracks me up. He carries dice and his writing pad around with him wherever he goes in case the occasion for a round pops up. Before we started he laid down the law, “You roll the dice off the table, the dice gets scratched.” My snigger was met with a stare to let me know he was serious. Jesus Christ. Fucking typically enough, in his second throw, one of his dice started bouncing towards the table edge but I didn’t move my arm in time and stopped it in it’s tracks. “Thank you,” sighed Jon, relieved.

Just as we were about to leave the cafe it started pissing down, properly hammering down from the heavens. It’s been a bit of a feature of this weekend, the rain. I’m glad I lent Jen’s rain jacket, even if it is bright yellow. Fuck punk points, I’m all about sensible atire these days. I texted the rest of the gang to let them know we’d be late and got various replies from different groupings reporting where they were taking shelter. The rain passed after a short while anyway and we met up with the guys outside the hotel. We headed over to the central station and found some cabs, but were looking for a bigger bus to take us all together. Jon approached an old boy in the cab at the front of the queue and asked him if he could message through to his company and send a big cab our way. He looked at him and told him to call one himself. Miserable old sod.

By the time we got back to the club the rain was just starting to drizzle down again, so a quick pack was in order and then we were on our way. The drive to Jyväskylä didn’t take long. Just long enough for Johan and I to watch the Liverpool game and then to discuss an alternative, ironic analysis of Sleeping With the Enemy. Andy joked saying he assumed that Julia Roberts was the enemy, being that she was clumsy and always leaving stuff in a mess and all that. Then Johan added that it couldn’t have been easy for the husband, how he was always falling ill to the pig sty he was living in, like that time he cut his foot on the beach when she left broken glass on the sand and didn't bother cleaning it up,  and that he ends up dying and shit, to which I concluded that he was indeed actually killed by mess. We all piss ourselves, thoroughly amused.

Norse has another good band tip for us today, Charles Wood and Shitgubbs. This pops up in conversation about bands with great names, to which Norse happily adds this to the canon. Apparently they came from Karlskoga and were awesome. Fuck knows. I love listening to the Massgrav guys gabbing though, they are a great crack.

The venue tonight is way bigger than the other two places we’ve played on this little run. It’s the kind of venue that when you walk in, the first thing you think is, Uh oh… this is gonna be a rotter. The set up is really professional and everything, huge PA, huge lighting system. It’s just, there is no way we’re going to even half fill the place, so sounding great and looking cool in the shit hot lighting system ain’t really gonna help. Of course, you have to shake that feeling off and just get on with it. We get talking to the sound guy and he seems like a nice bloke, not really much of a punk, but seems to have a clue. He tells us that there is another punk show on in town tonight, at a really small place, with local bands playing, but it’s on earlier in the evening and that everyone should come here afterwards since our show is on later. I can’t help thinking, yeah, or maybe they’ll all just get steamboats and stay right where they are. This place we’re in is part of the university and they have everything from lectures to theatre to punk gigs on here. I kinda wished we were playing the smaller place…

After soundcheck I drove the van over to another venue, a well known old place, where they were making us dinner. Apparently there was some other non punk gig on here tonight. I can’t imagine there is a big enough scene in Jyväskylä to accommodate three gigs. The food is decent anyway, another version of punk stew. There has been a lot of talk from Jon and Jeppe this weekend about how the Finns never put salt in their food. Jeppe reckons there was actually a movement against salt use in the 70’s, similar to the movement against alcohol in Sweden in the early part of last century. I guess the Finns REALLY used to love salt. Jon has complained about the lack of it every time he’s eaten this weekend, though. Had to crack up last night, though. The curried punk stew in Tampere was indeed missing a bit of flavour to it, and I asked Jon if he happened to have any salt in his bag, since there wasn’t any backstage. I wasn’t in the slightest bit surprised when he pulled out a little sealable plastic bag containing McDonald’s salt sachets.

After eating we drove back to the venue and found the local support band in the backstage. They were a bunch of very friendly young guys, and we had a really nice chat with them about playing in bands and the scene here. They were convinced there was gonna be a good crowd tonight. Jeppe and I got talking about touring, about back in the day when we toured full time. It hit me that the one and only time before this I was in Jyväskyla was nineteen years ago. At the place we ate dinner. I could see the look on the young guys faces being blown away by that fact and it hit me that we must seem pretty old to them. Jeppe asked who we were playing with back then and when I told him we were supporting Biohazard he laughed. Which, prompted by Andy started the ball rolling on all the bands, mostly rubbish, that we supported back in the day, and some of the catastrophic fallout that came with some of them. From kicking Rammstein’s pyrotechnics over and then later crashing their aftershow party we weren’t invited to, to being left stranded by Mudvayne in Europe, who cancelled the tour halfway through and didn’t bother to tell us since we’d been a bunch of assholes in their eyes I’m sure. Gordon had called the guitarist a fat strawberry. We really did play with some shockingly lame bands back in the day, and never really made an effort to get along with them. Biohazard were great though. Can’t say anything but good things about those guys, had the time of my life on that tour, many, many moons ago.

Johan turned up in the dressing room a while later, joking about the fact he needed to Victims purse, since the punks were swarming the merch table. I went out a while later to find about eight people in the room and Jon and Johan at the merch table playing Yahtzee. It did get better, though. Somewhat. The young guys in Warfare State played for about half an hour and by about halfway through their set I’d say around seventy or eighty people were in the place. I mean, the room could probably take five hundred, but with the lights down it didn’t look too bad. Done far worse in far bigger rooms with Speedhorn, that’s for sure. Whenever we play gigs to small crowds, or indeed okay crowds as in tonight, but in large rooms, I always think of the Get in the Van book and Rollins recalling how Dukowski balled him out for being down on a show with a low attendance, telling him that it doesn’t matter if there are only four people in the place, they’ve still paid to come see them and deserve a show, it ain’t their fault. I always try to remember that. Tonight was going to be fine. I think the main thing that’s playing on my mind, as well as everyone else’s, is the drive through the night to the ferry. There will be no party tonight. Ola is still tanning away a few tins, all the same.

Massgrav were superb again. They weren’t quite as jokey tonight, but every bit as brutal musically. I think it really works well with Jeppe on second guitar. I enjoy our gig too. The stage is nice and spacious so there’s plenty of space to move around. During My Eyes I kind of overestimate this, though, and swing my arm in the air before the fast bit comes in after the intro and end up punching one of the lights. Hurt like a bastard for a while, but I haven’t cut it thankfully. In other news Jon now seems to have adapted the style of playing barefoot on stage. I can only imagine what Jen will say next time she sees us play, she’s allergic to this look. There is always something with Jon, though. Always. All in all, I enjoy the gig and by the halfway point of the set there are some people dancing up front. It sounds good to me and I feel it was pretty tight, except for Andy missing the odd thing, but nothing major. He says afterwards it felt rubbish, though. Says he had a really bad sound on stage and couldn’t get into it. Funny how two people in the same band can have totally different gigs.

After the show they turn on the lights pretty much straight away, and after selling a bit of merch, Andy and Johan shower off and then we start packing the van. There is no rush, since we’re gonna end up being at the harbour at least a couple of hours before check in, but I still want to get going whilst I’m wired after the gig, since I’m taking the first shift. I crack up as we pack the van since Fenok seems to have gotten himself a bit tipsy, and is walking back and forth with a pint in his hand, taking one case at a time, making small quips to everyone he passes on route. I haven’t really seen him drunk so far this weekend, but he seems to have decided now was the time. Some of the young guys are sat on some concrete steps outside the venue, listening to music and partying, but it’s fucking cold out and doesn’t look the slightest bit fun to me. I guess we are old.

The drive to Åbo isn’t as bad as I thought it might be. It takes a long time, about four hours, of which I drive three of them before Norse takes the last stretch. Ola sits up front with me DJing and chatting away, keeping me alert. He does a great job of it, I’m really impressed by the fact he stays awake all the way to the boat at five am. The only fucker is that I get flashed by a speed camera whilst looking for the heater to get rid of the foggy window. I wasn’t going that fast, but hadn’t noticed the limit had gone down to eighty, Fucking bastard. Tonight was the first time I’ve drank Red Bull in about fifteen years I think..It did the job, I’ll give it that. That and Ola anyway. By the time Norse drives the van to a stop at the harbour I have a hard time sleeping. There are six of us in the back, all trying to sleep sat upright, rain hammering the roof of the van. Only Fenok seems to be in the land of nod. By the time we get out of the van and on to the boat, three hours later, my knees and back are in fucking agony. Getting into bed in our cabin in the bottom of the boat and turning the lights out feels almost orgasmic. I don’t even care if I sleep, I‘m just overjoyed at stripping down and stretching out under a quilt. Unfortunately, as much as I could happily sleep for the entire eleven hour voyage, I have to keep the day turned in the right direction, so begrudgingly set the alarm for twelve-thirty. I intend to enjoy every second of the next four hours in bed. I fall asleep almost immediately.

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